by Dan Caplinger | March 30, 2020
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Lost your job due to the COVID-19 crisis? Find out if you can claim unemployment insurance benefits.
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused millions of people to get laid off or furloughed temporarily. If you've lost your job recently, you need to know whether you can get some financial assistance. For those of you who live in Montana and are out of work, here's some vital information you'll need in order to figure out whether you can claim unemployment benefits and get some much-needed money to cover your living expenses.
Eligibility for unemployment benefits in Montana is based on the following criteria:
During the COVID-19 outbreak, you should be entitled to benefits in the event that your employer has temporarily shut down, you are under quarantine but expect to return to work, or you are unable to work due to the risk of exposure or to care for a family member. You do not have to have quit your job to be eligible for benefits.
You can apply for unemployment benefits online at the Montana Works website or by "visiting" a Job Service Montana office. During the COVID-19 outbreak, those offices are closed to visitors, but government employees are still providing services remotely. You can apply for benefits during your first week or partial week of unemployment, although you won't receive any benefit payment for that initial week even if you're eligible. The application will ask for the following information:
The Montana Department of Labor & Industry will then make a determination of how much your employer has paid you recently in eligible wages and how much your unemployment benefit is likely to be.
Your weekly unemployment benefit will be 1% of your total wages during the 12- to 18-month base period, or 1.9% of your total wages in your two highest-paying quarters during the base period if that amount is higher. The minimum amount is $138 per week, while the maximum is $552 per week.
Don't forget that unemployment benefits can be considered taxable income, so these are pre-tax amounts.
Some claimants can get 28 weeks of unemployment benefits, but not everyone will qualify for the full 28 weeks. The Department of Labor & Industry will tell you how long you can expect to receive benefits and the amount you're likely to get.
However, the CARES Act extends that period by 13 weeks, allowing you to collect unemployment benefits for up to 41 weeks.
You're allowed to file an appeal if your claim for unemployment benefits gets denied. To do so, you'll need first to request a redetermination from the Department of Labor & Industry. You have 10 days from the date of your initial determination to make your appeal through Montana Works. Further appeals are available from the Office of Administrative Hearings via its website.
When times are tough and you've lost your job, it's important to get all the financial support you can. Unemployment benefits are a vital resource that can give you money at the most critical time. By doing so -- as well as taking additional steps to make sure you can stay in your home and cover monthly bills -- you'll put yourself in the best possible position to get through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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